There were words in the world that should not be forgotten, and such words should never be taken lightly.

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For example, as her teacher had told her in the past,

‘By becoming a knight, you will live a life where you don’t know the value a knight should pursue.
What do you want? If you want a title, land, or gold after receiving this letter of recommendation, you are not a knight.
Is that what you want?’

She didn’t answer.

She didn’t listen.

The wise teacher had told her the truth.

He saw right through Judith’s future.

She regretted it.

Judith looked Calipa in the eyes and said.

“I’m not going to be a knight for money anymore.”

“Do you mean it?”

“I mean it.”

Judith had vaguely thought that she would die a peaceful death.
After perhaps becoming a grandmother, she thought she would die while sleeping in bed on a sunny day.
She knew that she would go to that world without resentment or regret.

But it was a no-brainer that her death came in a way she never could have imagined.

‘Now that I’ll kill the dog, I’ll return the price for it.’

When she recalled the man who threw gold coins at the price of a dog with contempt, she felt another long sword pierced through her heart.

It was all wrong.

Would it have been different if she joined a knighthood other than the Black Knights?

Or she shouldn’t have held a sword in the first place?

As of now, she didn’t know.

However, since Judith came back six years ago, she decided to change her future.
Not joining the Black Knights was only the beginning.

“You’ve decided.”

“Yes.”

“…Okay.”

At Judith’s answer, Calipa swallowed her doubts.

It was a sharp answer where she felt firm enough not to have to ask again.
Calipa wasn’t sure what kind of change of heart happened to Judith, but it was different.

Money-crazed swordsman.

It was a radical expression, but it was not wrong.

Judith was the most openly moneyed person Calipa has ever met.

As soon as Judith received the imperial knight’s gray robe, she ripped off the button.

The clothes of the imperial knights are made in the dressing room designated by the imperial court.
Even a button is pure gold, since it’s not enough to use high-end materials and finishes for everyone.

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Judith tore off the pure gold button without any hesitation.

‘As long as gold is in my hands, it’s mine.’

After saying that, Judith sold the button in less than three days.
Even if she wore it only once, it was a very harsh treatment for the clothes made for glory.

That wasn’t it.
Judith bought a spare sword, which was given to her classmates for practice, for 2,000 gold.

The comrades, who said it was damaged, were stunned when they learned that she sold the sword for 20,000 gold.

Of course, it didn’t go quietly.
The supply officer saw it as an opportunity, so he called Judith and shouted at her.

But Judith was proud at that time too.

‘Do the knights of the Veritas Empire brag about paying taxes on buttons? I’ll be lucky if I don’t encounter robbers.
The button is sold, and I will use it sparingly.’

‘The uniforms are used for identification purposes…’

‘What’s wrong with it? Will the Empire take responsibility if I starve to death?’

‘Selling a spare sword is unprecedented!’

‘I never used it anyways.’

The new knight, who did not listen even when being shouted at, was a genius with a reputation as the youngest aether master.
After all, it was an incident in which the supply officer took disciplinary action.

From then, Judith was called a money-crazy person and became the target of public criticism.

The funny thing was that after it happened, other knights secretly started stealing the pure gold buttons.

By the time Judith made copper buttons, there were no good uniforms left for the Knights.

The rules also changed.
It was forbidden to buy and sell spare swords.

That day, Calipa quietly realized that her friend was only several times more honest than others.
And that honesty opened Calipa’s heart.

‘Knight Impenor, I do not know the suffering you have suffered.
So, it would be rude of me to say anything about the value of revenge.
But I just want to say this.
There is an old saying in the Eastern Continent: an eye for an eye.
That includes this.
It makes sense to pay for the price of blood.
Kill them all and be sure to get revenge.’

Calipa blamed herself for not being very talkative, so she hoped that even a little bit of this sincerity would be conveyed.

“Judith, I’m fine.”

“…”

“I’m telling you that you don’t have to worry about me.
You’ll be a good friend of mine, even if we’re not the same knight order.”

Calipa captured the sight of Judith’s face slowly brightening up and then crushed from emotions again.

What on earth had changed her mind? She wanted to pry a little bit, but instead, she handed Judith a handkerchief.

Judith began to shed tears before she knew it.

She cried for a long time, until Calipa’s black handkerchief was soaked.

~*~

There are four types of Imperial Knights in the Veritas Empire: red, blue, black, and white.

The Empire valued swordsmanship and martial arts above anything else.

The story of assassins who invaded the quarters of Belfek, the 14th emperor, and the blue knights of that day, being slaughtered was a legend.

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Kiryu Lwalchmei was the commander of the Imperial Red Knights.

“Commander Kiryu, are you here?”

“Hello!”

“Oh, good job.”

Kiryu ruffled his hair while looking at his reflection in the window.

“Your red hair looks great today!”

“…Don’t say anything that makes me sick and just stand up straight.”

Kiryu was often targeted in battlefields because of his distinctive appearance.
Nevertheless, there were no bitter defeats and unnecessary retreats in his dictionary.

“Did nothing happen?”

“Nope! Everything’s good!”

It’s a good thing everything’s fine since it’s proof that the palace is peaceful.

‘But you can’t slack off.’

Kiryu entered the general’s room and thought, ‘Should we also do a hit-and-run attack on the training ground?’.

He thought there would be no one, but there were two familiar faces in the room.

“Kiryu, it’s time to go to work.”

“Don’t I come at my usual time?”

“I want you to come earlier.”

The man who settled first before the owner of the room smiled softly while his green eyes shined.

It was the lieutenant, Deschamp Ritz.
He was an opponent that could not be underestimated since he spit out harsh but direct words.

Instead of saying, ‘you must be in a good mood today’, Kiryu shrugged.

“You forgot today was the day for the new knight’s skill test!”

A light roar could be heard from the statement.

The man who spoke was wearing a gold thread and a red cape.
On his chest, the gold medal that only the royal family could wear could be seen.

“Oh, that’s right.”

“You’re not interested?”

“No.
I came back yesterday from the East.”

“That wasn’t very polite to the prince of the empire.”

Eden, the 4th Prince of the Veritas Empire, frowned.

“You’re not interested in newcomers…I’m worried about the future of the Empire, Red Knight Commander.”

“Yes, yes.
You’re more interested than me.
The Empire is always peaceful.”

“Kiryu.”

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Deschamps’ soft voice hit the air.

Kiryu and Eden were not just the Red Knight Commander and the Crown Prince.
They always put each other on the axis of sarcasm.

Kiryu then asked Eden.

“What were you doing in here?”

“I came because I needed an escort.
Maybe I can recruit one from the new knights.”

“Really? The imperial palace knights are widely spread around the Imperial Castle, so why do you always try to hire escort knights from new recruits?”

Kiryu clicked his tongue.

“It must be an experienced newcomer.”

“…Or go by what I said.”

“That’s too simple.”

Eden shook his head and continued.

“I just want to have at least one more person in the Imperial Palace.
If possible, that person won’t plot behind my back, and I want to pick a strong knight.”

“Yes.”

Kiryu sat down on the sofa and responded with annoyance.
Eden’s blue eyes shook from the air that was released from the sword.

“What if you served me as your master?”

“I became a knight to be loyal to the imperial family and the empire.
I told you when I graduated from Robald that I don’t want to serve you.”

“Tch, you’re sassy.
Don’t whine later on then.”

Eden grumbled for a moment, but he didn’t say more.

Deschamps smiled as if he were used to it being the two of them.

“There are newcomers after all.”

Kiryu spat out while sitting on the sofa.

The elites get lost in the Imperial Palace once a year.
They had a lot of strength on their shoulders, and even if they pretended not to be like that, they were still fluffy chicks.

(t/n: comparing them to fluffy chicks.)

Eden tilted his head.

“You’re not expecting anything? What if the newcomer replaces Kiryu?”

“I’ve looked forward to it a couple of times.
The skills are there, but there aren’t many who can stand it.”

“Not all are the same though.”

It was Deschamps who seemed particularly happy today that he then gently spoke.

“There’s someone that the prince might like.”

“Really? Who is it?”

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“She’s the youngest aether master in the Empire.”

“What?”

Kiryu’s eyes widened at the unexpected statement.

“That kind of news came in while I was in the east?”

“Yes.
It’s unmistakable.
I have invited her to join.”

Kiryu’s eyes quickly scanned the papers that Deschamps handed him.

“…She defeated Belial in the phantom test?”

“Amazing, right?”

Deschamps spoke as if he were floating.

“It took less than three minutes to get rid of Motskatorka (another beast/phantom).
It was over before we could finish a piece of the fries.”

“Don’t talk about food.
I haven’t eaten breakfast yet and I’m hungry.”

“She’s a genius.”

Kiryu then said while clutching his hungry stomach.

“I can’t believe it… Does it even make sense?”

It was difficult to accept.
If that statement were true, then the living sword that cut out 40 demonic beasts was roaming the Imperial Castle.

“Right? Can’t you believe it?”

“Then let’s go see it!”

For a moment, Kiryu forgot what to say.

The fourth prince, Eden, brightly invited them.

He wanted to scold him while saying he was busy.

However, his opponent was a prince of a nation and a member of the imperial family.
There were areas that could not be covered by friendship and loyalty even if they graduated from a military academy together.

Kiryu frowned and then asked.

“Do I have to see it for myself?”

“It’s part of the duty as a leader.
Do you want to lose all the good newcomers to the Black Knights again? And then you can’t even retire?”

Deschamps poked a sore spot with a soft smile and Kiryu made a sound without realizing it.

The leader of the Black Knights, Jermel Eisen, was a resourceful man.

He exerts the greatest effect with the least amount of action, and the selection of new knights was no exception.
When he would scout for newcomers, most had already joined the Black Knights.

Kiryu scanned the paper again.

Of course, he couldn’t just let Jermel do it again this year.
Besides, she’s an aether master.
Such talent was well worth checking.

“…Okay, I’ll go watch it with you.”

Kiryu’s consent was virtually a declaration of defeat, but the prince and the lieutenant who were looking at him smiled.

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